By, Michelle Hazekamp
June 6, 2023
In just a few short weeks, we will be celebrating the birthday of a nation we call “The land of the Free,” however, today look back to remind us that at times, our freedom must be defended and sacrifices made in order to keep and maintain our freedoms.
On June 6, 1944, Operation Overlord, or D-Day as we call it, launched the largest amphibious invasion in history to establish a new front line against the German forces under the command of General Dwight D. Iesenhower, and General Bernard Montgomery. This strategy would force the German army to split their forces and weaken their stronghold on the eastern front.
Victory Now Within Reach
Plans began in the late months of 1943, and by June 6, 1945, over 350,000 naval, airforce, and army personnel from twelve countries deployed to France’s northern coast to establish a new front line against the Germans. D-day marked a clear and distinct shift in public opinion of the war, proving that victory was undoubtedly and assuredly within reach for the first time in years.
"'This is D-Day,’ the BBC announced at twelve. ‘This is the day.’ The invasion has begun...Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
—Anne Frank, diary entry June 6, 1944
The invasion forces numbered about 175,000 Allied troops including 50,000 vehicles, 5,000 naval craft and more than 11,500 aircraft. By dawn, almost 7,000 vessels had made the journey from England and spread out to land some 150,000 soldiers across the coastline of Normandy.
On D-Day itself, Allied troops suffered more than 10,000 casualties, with 4,400 confirmed dead. Specifically, British and Canadian forces suffered around 3,700 casualties; and US forces suffered about 6,600 casualties. German forces lost between 4,000 and 9,000 men.
We tend to think of D-Day as one day in history, however, it lasted over 2 months, ending on August 25th, 1944. Those who survived D-Day would move on to the German frontier of Luxembourg in September, to fight in the Battle of the Buldge and ultimately win the war by 1945 for the Allies.
June 6 is significant for another battle of WWII also. Just two years earlier, June 3-6, 1942 we were engaged in the Battle of Midway in the Pacific, as the Japanese initiated another attack in the hopes of replicating their success at Pearl Harbor. However, thanks to intell gathered by our codebreakers and the strategic planning of our U.S. Navel forces, the Japanese retreated, ending the Battle of Midway on this day, June 6, 1942.
The Midway Islands, or the coral atoll—consisting of Eastern Island and the larger Sand Island to the west, were claimed for the United States on July 5, 1859, by Capt. N.C. Brooks. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt placed Midway under the administration of the U.S. Navy Dept. It was not until the popularization of air travel did it become a significant. By 1935 the islands had become a regular stopover point for transpacific flights.
The U.S. Lost 145 aircraft and approximately 360 servicemen during the Battle of Midway, along with two Navy destroyers, the Yorktown & the USS Hammann.. However, as a result of the U.S. victory in the Battle of Midway, Japan abandoned its plan to expand its reach in the Pacific, and would remain on the defensive for the remainder of World War II. The battle injected U.S. forces with confidence and drained Japanese morale, turning the tide of war in the Pacific strongly in favor of the Allies.
As we remember these two major battles on this day in history, may we never forget the cost for freedom and the sacrifices our forefathers made to guarantee our freedoms would survive long after them. And as free citizens, it is our duty to preserve that legacy of freedom they have passed down to us, and guarantee it's survival for future generations.